Friday, March 10, 2017

Favorite Scene Friday! King Kong: Grab the Raid

Kong: Skull Island, one of my most anticipated movies of the year, is released in cinemas today, so it seems like the right time to discuss another movie that featured the enormous ape, 2005's King Kong directed by Peter Jackson. It's a film I've discussed before when looking at our favourite fight scenes, because seriously, show me a better fight sequence than one between a 25ft tall gorilla and three giant T-Rex-like dinosaurs, but I'm here today to talk about another sequence from the film that has a completely different tone, but one that I love almost as much.

King Kong poster by Matt Ferguson
This scene takes place after our group of seamen and film-makers, in search of the kidnapped Ann (Naomi Watts), have been unceremoniously thrown from a log bridge down into a dark, rocky crevice. The meagre survivors - including writer Jack (Adrien Brody), director Carl (Jack Black), ship's cook Lumpy (Andy Serkis) and cabin boy Jimmy (Jamie Bell) - awaken to find themselves at their lowest point - literally - as they're surrounded by the corpses of their friends, and are soon to be feasted upon by an array of vile and horrific beasties.

It's fair to say that I'm not a horror fan. In fact, I often say so myself. So it puzzles me as to why one of my favourite scenes from this film is easily the most horror-like. I think it might be the nature of the horror, essentially being effects-driven creature-feature, meaning I can appreciate the design of the beasts attempting to devour our heroes, as well as the skill required to render them onscreen.

There's no question as to the most inventive and horrendous of these, and which character undergoes the most traumatising departure because of them, that of the giant penis-teeth slugs and their limb-by-limb consumption of Lumpy. When the first of these bulbous, nightmare-inducing death worms rears up and flails out the sniffing, probing mouth like the creature from Alien, it's downright terrifying. What is that thing? What is it going to do? WHY DOES IT EXIST? Lumpy sticks with his absolutely spot-on first urge - punch it in the closest thing it has to a face - and continues to do so until one starts to creep up his leg, then an arm, and finally his head. The way his scream becomes muffled as the ring of pulsating teeth consume his mouth makes me shudder, and his impotent thrashing of the machete as more of the creatures swarm in, poking and gauging at him truly removes any kind of dignity he had left. There's a chance I won't be sleeping tonight.

This really is the scene where our protagonists have lost everything. Not only are many of them dead and they're stuck at the bottom of what might very well be the gateway to Hell, but Carl's film, the one thing he's been fighting for this whole time, lies unspooled and ruined in the sunlight. Up until this point he has been a driven and single-minded presence, aiming above all else to bring the film canisters home, but the moment that is no longer a possibility he becomes a whirling dervish of fury, the only survivor to take on the hordes of beasts single-handed. Whilst Jimmy miraculously saves Jack from a swarm of bugs the size of cats without actually shooting Jack himself, Carl is kicking thorax and taking names as he dispatches anything and everything that dares approach.

How the scene ends is a little bit too convenient, but it allows for the great Bruce Baxter (played by the equally great Kyle Chandler) to swing in on a vine, gun blazing, in an attempt to redeem himself for earlier cowardice, and that surely must be a great thing, regardless of how super-imposed he looks against the background.

What's your favorite moment from a King Kong film?

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